Lost and “Founder’s Institute”: A Helping Hand for Startups

At the end of our second day in the valley, our cohort visited the Founder’s Institute.  Founder’s Institute is a unique accelerator in Silicon Valley, and the world as a whole, for its unconventional approach to advising startups.  Jonathan Greechan, a Villanova alum of the class of 2004, guided us around their office.  Here, their operations and marketing teams, in addition to Hercules, Jonathan Greechan’s dog that fills the role of Chief Morale Officer (CMO), work on their global strategies.

Global strategies may seem like an unorthodox term for a Silicon Valley incubator, but that is part of the Founder’s Institute’s vision: Silicon Valley is not a place, it is a mindset.  Essentially, Founder’s Institute works to spread the capital and knowledge of the valley to other regions of the world, through a chapter-based organization.  Operating in over 150 cities, Founder’s Institute gives companies that have little access to the resources of Silicon Valley an opportunity to learn strategies for running a startup.  The Founder’s Institute uses a four month educational model to help their companies, and graduate companies join a shared liquidity pool, where 15% turns to the Institute itself, but 85% is split between the local chapter and its companies.  By having a shared pool of funds, it requires the companies to foster a collaborative environment.

Jonathan helped co-found the Founder’s Institute after his own experiences with startups and Silicon Valley.  Besides explaining the model of the Institute, he helped deliver some key tips to inspire our own creative thinking.  His philosophy is grounded in the execution of the company, and not simply the idea.  Through intelligence, teamwork and training, startups can find their footing in markets.  The most important factor, in addition to understanding the problem at hand, is establishing traction and then executing the business model.

Jonathan also worked with the cohort on some of our own ideas, encouraging us to keep thinking about innovation and working hard on our passions.  His feedback inspired the group to think more critically about Silicon Valley and enhanced my personal views on the necessary qualities of successful entrepreneurs.